Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

State leaders launch student success collaborative to boost graduation rates, close equity gaps

October 25, 2021

Screenshot: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative website.

State leaders and education advocates gathered virtually to launch the Kentucky Student Success Collaborative. The collaborative is the first statewide center in the country to link two- and four-year higher education institutions with policy and industry leaders to increase graduation rates, close equity gaps and strengthen workforce readiness.

Funded by a $2.1 million grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the collaborative is housed in the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

We all have a responsibility to support student success in meaningful ways, and this generous gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation gives us an opportunity to do that. - CPE President Aaron Thompson

The collaborative will focus on information sharing, professional development and best practice implementation support. Its work is based on evidence that outdated policies and practices contribute significantly to student failure. When supports such as programs for first-year success and improved credit transfer are put in place to address challenges students face today, a meaningful number of students who are struggling can successfully graduate and enter the workforce.

A team of representatives from institutions across the state and other key stakeholders will help ensure the collaborative’s projects are in line with the campus and community partners’ biggest priorities. One of the priorities that has been identified is supporting student needs outside the classroom, which will be the focus of the collaborative’s first community of practice.

Other assistance and professional development programs coming in the spring include an online hub that will provide access to a community of practitioners, resources on best practices as well as new reports and data.

CPE President Aaron Thompson said building this statewide network will create a new level of resource sharing and allow diverse groups to work in tandem, reducing redundancies and accelerating progress.

President Aaron Thompson at KYSSC launch.
President Aaron Thompson at KYSSC launch.

“Kentucky colleges and universities continue to make measurable gains in student success outcomes, but this is too important of an issue for individual campuses or students to address in isolation,” said Thompson. “How Kentucky students fare in our education system has a direct impact on the economy and our quality of life in every corner of the commonwealth. We all have a responsibility to support student success in meaningful ways, and this generous gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation gives us an opportunity to do that.”

Mason Rummel, president and CEO of the Louisville-based foundation, said she was grateful to educational institutions, policymakers, foundations and education advocates for their willingness to step outside their comfort zone and join forces in a new way.

“As a foundation representative who has been working on solutions to a variety of causes over the past several decades, I’ve learned one thing—that little is accomplished in isolation,” said Rummel. “Grant-making foundations have learned that when they pull together and focus on a shared agenda, the outcomes can be exponentially greater and far more effective. We seem to do better when we learn from each other and share our successes, our lessons learned and our thought leadership. The same goes for the partners in this collaborative. It’s our hope that each of the strengths and talents that these institutions bring to this effort will have a great impact on the students we serve and the outcomes in our state’s higher education sector.”

In 2015, Kentucky established the 60x30 goal, an ambitious effort to raise the percentage of working-age Kentuckians with a high-quality postsecondary degree or certificate to 60 percent by the year 2030.

The state remains significantly below the national average for educational attainment, while some form of postsecondary education is increasingly necessary to compete in the workforce. First-generation college goers, low-income students, underrepresented minorities and students age 25 and older continue to graduate from college at significantly lower rates than other students in Kentucky.

“Our job is to make sure all Kentuckians have the tools they need to succeed in today’s ever-evolving economy. It is one of the most important things we can do for the future of the state,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. “There are so many gifted students in Kentucky who aren’t able to share their talents with their communities and as participants in the workforce because of the systemic barriers in their way.”

Last Updated: 11/23/2021